Are you looking for “What are the 10 things that can be plugged into PCIe slot?” you are in the right place. Many different types of expansion cards and add-in cards can fit into PCIe slots. One of the most popular things to plugged into PCIe slot is a graphics card. Additional devices that can be installed in the PCIe slots include network cards, SSD expansion cards, sound cards, storage controller cards, RAID controllers, video capture cards, TV tuner cards, and RAID controller cards.
As you can see, the uses of PCIe slot offers a lot of flexibility. It may support a broad variety of components, allowing you to customize your system any way you like. Installing a graphics card may be a good idea if you enjoy playing video games. You might want to include storage controllers and more SATA ports if you’re setting up a NAS system. A network adapter can be added to your computer if it lacks network capabilities, and a high-end dedicated sound card can be plugged into PCIe slot if you are an audiophile.
In this post, we’ll look at a variety of devices to help you understand what can and cannot be plugged into PCIe slots as well as what each one does.
What Method Does Motherboard Expanding Use?
When adding components to your motherboard, there are essentially two protocols that are frequently used.
SATA is a protocol that is typically used to link optical devices, hard disc drives, and SATA SSDs. 1.969 GB/s or 1969 MB/s on a single PCIe v4.0 lane compared to 600 MB/s on a SATA 3 slot, or three times as much. However, PCIe is a protocol that is used to link High-Speed Input Output devices (HSIO). These are devices with substantial bandwidth needs.
Currently, the SATA protocol’s version 3.0 bandwidth limit is 750 MB/s (6Gbps). Comparatively speaking, PCIe is much faster than this. The bandwidth of the PCIe x16 slot that complies with PCIe v4.0 is approximately 31.5 GB/s. In reality, a single-lane PCIe x1 v4.0 slot provides approximately three times the bandwidth of a SATA 3 slot, with 1.969 GB/s or 1969 MB/s compared to 600 MB/s for PCIe v4.0.
Here, it’s being said that specialized and demanding components are plugged into PCIe slots.
Different Sizes Of PCIe Slots
PCIe expansion cards require various lane and slot configurations. As a result, PCIe slots come in various sizes.
These are the slots that are used the most frequently:
- x16. The largest slots on the motherboard are x16, which have 16 PCIe lanes and are used for cards like graphics cards that need a lot of bandwidth.
- x8. Similar in size to an x16 slot, but with fewer PCIe lanes, is the x8 slot. Additionally, M.2 NVMe SSD expansion cards or graphics cards frequently utilize this.
- x4. This slot is the same size as an x16 slot and has four PCIe lanes. It is frequently utilized for a single M.2 NVMe SSD expansion card; also, it is utilized for SATA 3 expansion cards, raid controllers, high-speed 10G network adapters, and 4K video capture cards.
- x1. the smallest expansion slot and is suitable for nearly any other card, including a sound card, typical 1G network adapters (wireless cards), FHD video capture cards, USB expansion cards, etc.
For a better understanding of the subject at hand, it is advised that you brush up on PCIe lanes, versions, and slots.
What Are The 10 Things That Can Be Plugged Into PCIe Slot?
Some of the most popular devices that you can be plugged into PCIe slots include the following:
- Graphics Cards
- Sound Cards
- Ethernet Network Cards
- Wireless and Bluetooth Network Cards
- Video Capture Cards
- SATA Expansion and RAID Controller Cards
- M.2 NVMe Expansion Cards
- TV Tuner Cards
- Port Expansion Cards
- Riser / Splitters
1. Graphics Cards
A dedicated graphics card, the processing unit that enables all the visuals you see on the screen to be painted, is one of the peripherals that are most frequently installed on a PCIe slot. Gamers and cryptocurrency miners will be particularly interested in this device. A graphics card that is integrated into the CPU is common. These are pretty basic and suitable for typical users. Stronger dedicated graphics cards are required for advanced users like gamers, designers, and simulators. In fact, one of the biggest investments for any hobbyist PC builder is a graphics card.
A PCIe x16 slot is the sole available option for desktop computers when adding a dedicated graphics card. The majority of graphics cards are built to use 16 PCIe lanes, so in order to perform at their peak, they need the entire PCIe x16 slot.
As previously stated, iGPUs are integrated into the CPUs. For the average user, these are enough. Dedicated graphics cards are independent, PCIe-slot-based hardware components made by NVIDIA or AMD.
2. Sound Cards
Given that every motherboard has an integrated sound processing chip, computers can process sound natively. However, purchasing a sound card is the obvious next step for makers, gamers, hobbyists, or professionals who require a higher level of sound output. These can upgrade your system’s audio ports and quality, as well as expand the number of audio channels it can support. The absence of interference, which can degrade the sound quality or cause noise, is another benefit.
A dedicated sound card, as mentioned above, might be excellent for audiophiles and intermediate audio producers even though it cannot compete with professional audio systems and interfaces. A PCIe x1 slot is necessary for sound cards.
3. Ethernet Network Cards
While the majority of motherboards enable Ethernet. This may not exist on some older motherboards. Therefore, purchasing Ethernet network adapters may be justified. Additionally, you can only receive an average gigabit network speed on basic common boards. You can choose to use dedicated PCIe network cards to obtain 10G or greater speeds.
High-speed 10G, or 10 Gbps, network card ASUS XG-C100C above needs an X4 slot (v3.0). 1 Gbps network cards, which are slower than Gigabit, only need an x1 slot (v3.0).
4. Wireless and Bluetooth Network Cards
Network cards that can add WiFi and Bluetooth functionality to your PC are available in addition to Ethernet network cards. Even when using the more recent WiFi 6 protocol, a WiFi network card only needs an X1 slot.
5. Video Capture Cards
The information displayed on the screen is captured using video capture cards. The same content can be streamed to viewers online using them as well. These can be useful for online game streamers and entertainers and are especially beneficial for individuals who have a gaming console or a dedicated streaming PC. These are utilized by content creators and vloggers in addition to gamers and streamers.
A video capture card essentially aids in encoding the raw video into data that a computer can comprehend. Then, this can be streamed or changed. An x1 slot is necessary for FHD PCIe video capture cards. However, 4K video capture cards need an x4 slot since they need additional PCIe bandwidth.
6. SATA Expansion and RAID Controller Cards
Your system’s storage capacity can be increased by using PCIe slots. You can purchase a PCIe SATA extension card if your motherboard only has a restricted number of SATA 3 ports for connecting SATA hard drives. The amount of SATA slots it has and whether a RAID controller is present determine the size of the SATA expansion card and the kind of slot it needs.
SATA 3 expansion cards are available for slots x1, x4, and x8.
7. M.2 NVMe Expansion Cards
The fastest hard drives on the market are PCIe NVMe SSDs. In ideal circumstances, a SATA 3 spinning hard disc drive can only operate at speeds of 200 MB/s. A PCIe NVMe SSD, such the Samsung 980 Pro, can write and read data at speeds of up to 7000 and 5100 MB/s, respectively. This is far faster than a typical hard drive.
Many more recent motherboards do have at least one M.2 NVMe slot. However, you can spend money on an NVMe SSD extension card if your motherboard doesn’t have an M.2 port or if you want to add another NVMe SSD to your system.
Be aware that 4 PCIe lanes are needed for each M.2 NVMe slot. The smallest available hence requires an x4 PCIe slot.
8. TV Tuner Cards
A TV Tuner card comes next on the list of items that can be plugged into PCIe slots. In other words, TV Tuner cards enable your PC to function as a TV. They give it permission to directly ingest TV signals, decode them, and display TV stations. These cards are reasonably priced and useful in a variety of circumstances. The uses of PCIe connector. A few can be plugged into a USB, but many PCIe connectors connect directly to the motherboard.
For these, you need a PCIe x1 slot.
9. Port Expansion Cards
A PCIe port expansion card is the best option if you want to increase the amount of IO on your computer. Whether you want to upgrade your PC with additional USB Type-A ports, the more modern Type C port, or even a Thunderbolt 3.0 port. Port expansion cards let you accomplish this.
It should be noted that in order to add the matching port expansion card, you must have the appropriate header. For instance, your motherboard must have a Thunderbolt 3.0 header in order to add a Thunderbolt 3.0 expansion card like the one displayed above.
These cards need either an x1 or x4 PCIe slot, depending on the number and kind of ports.
10. Riser / Splitters
Basically, riser cards are PCIe port splitters. PCIe riser cards give additional ports to your PC similar to port expansion cards. just because they add PCIe ports. Riser cards are widely used by cryptocurrency miners to build mining rigs using several graphics cards.
More PCIe slots do not necessarily equate to more PCIe lanes or more bandwidth.
Summary of Expansion Cards and PCIe Lane Requirements
|Card||PCIe Lane Requirement||Remarks|
|NVIDIA Graphics Card||16 or 8||16 ideally|
8 in the case of SLI
|AMD Graphics Card||16, 8 or 4||16 ideally|
8 or 4 in case of crossfire
|Ethernet Network Card||1 or 4||1 in case of 1 Gbps (v3.0)|
4 in case of 10 Gbps (v3.0)
|WiFi Network Card||1|
|Video Capture Card||1 or 4||1 in case of 1080 capture (v3.0)|
4 in case of 4k capture (v3.0)
|SATA Expansion and|
|1, 4, 8||The lane requirement depends upon the number of SATA slots, and whether it has RAID Controller|
|M.2 NVMe Expansion Card||4|
|TV Tuner Cards||1|
|Port Expansion Card||1 or 4||Depending upon the type and number of ports. Thunderbolt 3.0 port, for instance, requires 4 PCIe Lanes (v3.0)|
|Riser/Splitter||1, 4, 8, 16|
Cross And Backward Compatibility Of PCIe
- Since of the cross-compatibility of the PCIe standard, an x4 card can be installed in an x16 slot. However, you should avoid doing this unless it is absolutely required because otherwise, you will be wasting your valuable x16 slot on a lesser card.
- Because of the backward compatibility of the PCIe standard, an earlier PCIe card using the PCIe 2.0 standard will fit in a PCIe 3.0 slot. The interconnection, however, is limited to operating at the slower of the two systems’ top speeds.
In this article, I went into great length regarding a few of the most popular devices that may be plugged into PCIe slot. It’s crucial that you understand what a PCIe slot and lane are.
You see, a specific number of PCIe lanes are needed by each PCIe device, but the total number of PCIe lanes available in your system is constrained. I’ve gone into great length on PCIe lanes in this blog. So if you intend to build your PC or install a new device, make sure you understand the concept.
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